Italian Buttercream
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Yields: about 400g (2¼ cup). Enough to frost 1 cake or generously frost about 10 cupcakes.
  • 100g (or ½ cup) granulated sugar
  • 60ml (or ¼ cup) water
  • 2 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 1½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 250g (or 1 cup + 5 teaspoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and the water. Heat over gentle heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, crank up the heat and clip on a sugar thermometer. Cook the syrup until it reaches 114°C/238°F. As the syrup cooks, the water will evaporate. Make sure the sugar syrup does not get any hotter than 114°C/238°F, because the chemical properties of sugar change as it heats.
  2. While the syrup is cooking, mix together the egg whites, salt and vanilla in a medium-sized, heatproof bowl. Once the sugar syrup reaches 114°C/238°F, immediately take it off the heat and carefully drizzle the hot sugar syrup into the beaten egg whites down the sides of the mixing bowl, mixing continuously. Don't pour the syrup directly onto the whisk attachment of the mixer, because the hot syrup may splatter. Once all of the syrup has been added, raise the mixer's speed to high and mix until the meringue has cooled to body temperature. This takes about 10 minutes.
  3. When the meringue is cool enough, start adding the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, waiting until each tablespoon of butter is incorporated before adding the next. Once all the butter has been added, the resulting buttercream should be smooth and thick. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until needed. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week or for up to 2 months in the freezer in a freeze-proof container or bag.
  4. To use buttercream that has been refrigerated, allow to come to room temperature (this takes about 3 hours in a warm kitchen) or microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between each interval, until it's soft. Then mix through until it's spreadable again. Thaw frozen buttercream in the fridge overnight, then allow to come to room temperature before use and, once at room temperature, mix briefly until smooth.
  5. Serve at room temperature. If you've assembled a cake or decorated cupcakes, allow cake or cupcakes to come to room temperature before serving (about 3-5 hours in a warm kitchen).
Recipe by The Tough Cookie at